Psychology 237 Course Offerings

Course Information

  • Department: Psychology
  • Prepared By: Psychology Department
  • Prepared Date: Fall 2017
  • Course Title: Theories of Personality
  • Course Code: PSY 237
  • Credits: 3
  • Contact Hours: 45

Catalog Description

The course will examine the concept of personality from four theoretical perspectives: psychodynamic, trait, learning, and humanistic. Representative theories of each perspective are discussed in terms of basic conceptualizations, methods of assessment, development, research and clinical applications. Prerequisite(s): PSY 101. Credits: 3 (3,0)

  • Prerequisites: PSY 101, PSY 130, or PSY 131 or permission from Department Chairperson.
  • Required For: None
  • Elective For: All curricula with a social science elective
  • Texts Currently in Use: Personality and Personal Growth 7th edition by Frager and Fadiman, Pearson/Prentice Hall

Course Outline

Course Description:

This course will make students aware of the diversity of approaches to the understanding of personality. Representative theories of the psychoanalytic, neopsyhoanalytic, humanistic, trait, and learning approaches will be presented. The development of each theory will be discussed from the perspective of both clinical and experimental work, as well as specific events and experiences in the theorists' personal and professional lives. Students should attain a working knowledge of the basic approach, major constructs and primary shortcomings of each theory.

Unit 1: Introduction to the Field of Personality

The depth and scope of the field of personality will be discussed. Students will receive an overview of early and current efforts in the field with an emphasis on the evolving nature of the field. The nature of an adequate theory and its relation to personality development, assessment, research and clinical applications will be discussed.

Unit 2: Psychoanalytic Theory

The groundbreaking theory of Sigmund Freud will be explored in detail. Topics to be covered include instincts and psychic energy, the structure of personality (id, ego and superego), anxiety and the defense mechanisms and the psychosexual stages of personality development. The influences of this theory on psychology, psychiatry and the general culture will also be examined.

Unit 3: Neopsychoanalytic Theories

The theories of Carl Jung, Alfred Adler and Karen Horney will be presented so that students understand the basic concepts essential to each. The development of each theory from Freudian theory, as well as the similarities and differences between each of these theories and Freudian theory will be stressed.

Unit 4: Learning Theories

Following an initial introduction to the early proclamation of John Watson on the behavioral perspective, there will be an examination of the strict behavioral approach of B.F. Skinner and the social learning theory approach of Albert Bandura. Attention will focus upon a variety of mechanisms of learning and social learning as they apply to humans. The more recent cognitive behavioral approaches will be contrasted with the strict behavioral view. Similarities and differences between the learning and psychoanalytic approaches will be presented.

Unit 5: Humanistic Theories

The "third force" in personality theory will be presented through an introduction of the assumptions of theorists who hold phenomenological and humanistic views of personality. Attention will be directed at the theories of Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow. The views of humanistic theorists will be compared and contrasted to the psychoanalytic and learning perspectives on personality.

Unit 6: Trait Theories

The psychometric emphasis will be discussed starting with the early attempts to assess intelligence and ending in the sophisticated computer based statistical analyses of personality traits that exist today. The theories of Gordon Allport and Raymond Cattell will serve as the primary focus of the unit. In addition, there will be an examination of selected traits that have generated considerable research interest (eg. fear of success, locus of control, need for achievement).